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Editorial: Maybe we shouldn’t have so much on our plates

Overeating
Overeating

A former president of the Canadian Medical Association is suggesting a simple way to deal with this country’s growing obesity rates.

Dr. John Haggie

Last week, TC Media asked Dr. John Haggie for one change people could make that would make a difference.

You’d expect him to say “Quit puffing on those Peter Jacksons,” or “Those Sour Cream and Onion Ruffles are a once-a-year treat,” or “Walk an hour a day or, when you get older, you’ll take more walks to the doctor’s office.”

Surely — and not to put words in his mouth — Haggie and your family doctor want people to butt out, limit junk food and hoof more miles.

Such moves would pay off. You’d have more energy and an improved mood. And there’d be reduced burden on the health system, as you’re not a patient. That would also shorten the wait to see specialists.

But Haggie’s suggestion, while directed at improving our health, was not a typical or familiar refrain.

His suggested change: “Do away with the large dinner plates and use the nine-inch ones instead … Have one serving and then stop.”

Haggie — currently Newfoundland and Labrador’s minister of health — walks the walk on this one. He’s had less on his plate since 2004.

“We’ve done that in our house and I’ve managed to lose weight and keep it off. It’s a way of training your brain to use less food because, really, we all overeat.”

Obesity is an epidemic in this country and region.

Stats say four in 10 Canadian adults are clinically obese.

One in 10 children are in the same boat.

Being clinically obese, according to the Canadian Obesity Network, means a person may require immediate support in managing and controlling their weight

“As a leading cause of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and cancer, the condition impacts those who have obesity, their families, employers, neighbours, health practitioners and governments.”

Haggie believes tackling the problem starts with the family.

He believes using smaller plates will have a positive affect on everyone in the household as well as future generations if children get used to eating like this.

Other benefits, Haggie notes, are the money and time saved.

“If you have five small plates (around the table), your pot of spaghetti sauce might do you two meals instead of one.”

Haggie warns the biggest challenge is not going back and loading the small plate up with seconds.

He suggests waiting 15 minutes for your brain to catch up with your stomach, and seeing if you still need or crave another helping.

“(Using smaller plates) struck me as a communal thing,” Haggie says, “and as I say, from personal experience, it worked.”

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